P. Donohue Shortridge/Family/The Extraordinary Gift
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The Extraordinary Gift
A child manifests what nature intends for humans. His
inherent inner drive compels him to become an autonomous human
being who encounters the world with dignity and curiosity. He
seeks meaningful relationships and assumes that his encounters
will enjoy mutual good will. Thus it is with awe and admiration
that we watch the young child who, after extraordinary effort
finally stands erect and joins the family of man. We make a
record of his first words because we know this moment to be one
of the significant turning points in his life. And this child
moves us profoundly with his very early extraordinary acts of
empathy and compassion. We honor these benchmarks because the
child is becoming fully human; self reliant, critical thinking
The adult, recognizing that the child will learn from every
environment in which he is placed, provides appropriate
surroundings that protect him from that which he is not ready
for, while at the same time offer ample opportunity to freely
explore. Further, the adult guides the child by engaging in
regular, respectful interactions rather than either coercing him
to blindly submit to adult authority on the one hand or else
emotionally abandoning him to his own devices or turning him over
to others for his care on the other. And finally, the adult
models for the child what it is to be human; a love of life, a
respectful approach with others and an optimistic perspective
that the world is rational and knowable.
This philosophy of life indeed dignifies our relations with
children, but it also serves as a reflective model for critical
self evaluation. Moreover, it ennobles our adult relationships,
both the personal and in the wider culture in which we live.
Essentially, we are all self-educators, seeking meaning in our
own lives while pursuing our place in the world.
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All essays Copyright 2001-2006 P. Donohue Shortridge
All Rights Reserved
No usage rights granted without the written permission
of the author. Inquires: here.
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